Putin the pedal to the metal lately? Don’t let the jet-fighter-like rear fender air intakes fool you, the ZAZ-968 “Zaporozhets” wasn’t exactly a muscle car even by Soviet standards. Built at the Zaporizhian Automobile Factory in Melitopol, Ukrainian SSR from 1971 through 1980, the ZAZ-968 was propelled by a 40hp air-cooled V4 engine mounted in the rear. Export versions were upgraded with international-spec headlights, a safety glass windscreen and an anti-theft steering lock which was rarely, if ever, tested.
Wonder if that guitar-playing model knows “Back In The USSR”. Designed to be a “people’s car” that was sturdy yet affordable, the Zaporozhets is fondly recalled by Russians of a certain age… including some guy named Vladimir Putin. According to the Russian President’s official website, Putin’s mother won a ZAZ-968 in a lottery when young Vlad was a third year university student. His parents then gave the car to Putin – no word if he frequently drove it shirtless.
Whole LADA Love
Russian car manufacturer AvtoVAZ, based in Tolyatti, Samara Oblast based their boxy Lada Classic on the mid-sixties Fiat 124 sedan. Between 1966 and 2012, over 20 million Classic sedans and station wagons had been sold without the vehicle undergoing a major design change. Dig that groovy vinyl roof on the last ad above; it kinda breaks up the Red Square look.
About 60% of all Lada Classics were exported to both East Bloc and West Bloc nations – the USA being a notable exception; Americans had to wait for the Yugo to “enjoy” owning a workers-paradise-made copy of a Fiat. Note what appears to be (at first glance) a Soviet laptop computer in the faux photoshoot ad above.
AvtoVAZ introduced the VAZ-2108 in 1984 with export versions named Samara and domestic market cars labeled Sputnik – hey, Plymouth had a Satellite so why not? The French copy on the ad above translates to “More stylish and less expensive. Hold on! Yeah, hold on to your wallet.